Prime Cuts: I Surrender, This is My Inheritance, My Roving Heart
It's almost sacrilegious to say anything by way of criticism about All Sons and Daughter's latest Integrity Music release "Poets and Saints." The album was a labor of love made by the duo when they ventured to Europe with acclaimed author and pastor Jamie George and a film crew. Together, they traced the lives of C.S. Lewis, Saint Patrick, John Newton, Saint Thérèse, Saint Francis, William Cowper, Saint Augustine, George MacDonald and others, mining for undiscovered gems, something to connect these individuals to modern believers. The fruits of such an odyssey has been distilled in these 10 newly crafted songs. "Poets & Saints," the worship duo's fourth album, was produced by Chad Copelin (Crowder, Gungor) and mixed by Shane Wilson (Brandon Heath, Vertical Church Band) and Sean Moffitt (Newsboys, Jordan Feliz).
The album does have some high points. Album opener "Heaven and Earth" is an ambient sounding benediction that incorporates C. S. Lewis' Anglican high church majesty with some soothing keyboard-driven Hillsong UNITED balladry. "I Surrender," the album's lead single, is another hybrid between the old world of hymns and today's worship finesse this time drawing inspiration from Francis of Assisi's call to empty ourselves before the Cross. Few songs these days take their theological seed from 1 Peter 1:3-10. "This is My Inheritance" takes hold of Peter's words of anchoring our hope not in this fleeting world but in God's promises.
"My Roving Heart," on the hand, finds All Sons and Daughters sonically in the nu-folk territory. They give a Rend Collective-esque interpretation of one of John Newton's more obscure hymns. The album takes a nose dive in terms of tempo and quality with "I Wait" and "Rest in You." Though both songs are noteworthy for engaging the writings of historical greats such as George MacDonald and Saint Augustine respectively, they are almost tuneless and they are a dread on the ears. "Creation Sings" which pays homage to John Calvin makes the effort to be engaging but still fails. Ditto with the tiresome "You Hold It All Together."
Though All Sons and Daughters try to go deep in allowing the history of the church to influence their lyrics, most of the songs are just not singable. If these songs are aimed towards congregational singing as most of the products of Integrity Music do, these songs will not cut it. The melodic structures are far too diffused and most of the songs lack discernible hooks. With the duo's interest in church history, they should have realized that the reason why the hymns of the church are immortal is because they thrive on timeless melodies. In this regard, "Poets and Saints" is found wanting.